Monday, September 28, 2009

Creativity Kick-Start: Earrings!

Earrings are a mainstay in nearly every woman’s wardrobe and they make great last-minute gifts. As we get closer to the holiday gift-giving season, give yourself a creative kick-start with this fun challenge: Grab a box/bag/strand/package of beads and a handful of head pins, eye pins and ear wires, along with chain nose pliers, round nose pliers and wire cutters. Make as many different earrings as

possible while "watching" TV or a movie. It's a great exercise in creativity but it's just mindless enough to do while in front of the tube.

Look for ideas and inspiration in the Design Workshop.

Some of my favorite quick earrings are:

Flower Drops Earrings by Suzie Kwon

Girly Pearls Earrings by Margot Potter

Falling Heart Earrings by Fernando Dasilva

Mix up your designs by trying different ear wires on for size. In addition to the ever-popular leverback style, there are “modern” ear wires that have a sleek, minimalist look; trendy, oversized kidney ear wires that add length and movement to earring designs; and clip-on earrings for people without pierced ears.

For more earring making tips, check out these quick Beading Lessons videos from the public television series, Beads, Baubles & Jewels:

Making Ear Wires

Making Easy Drop Earrings

- Katie Hacker for Beadalon

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Featured Free Beading Pattern: Cascading Willow Necklace

The Beadalon Design Workshop is full of ideas to inspire your next beading design. This fabulous Cascading Willlow Necklace by Design Team Member Margot Potter uses black Beadalon 19 for maximum impact. It’s right in line trends for fall with a combination of jet crystals and freshwater pearls and the layered look translates easily from day to night.


• 60 6x9mm Jet Swarovski™ teardrops

• 63 6mm white freshwater oval pearls

• 33 3mm Jet AB Swarovski™ rounds

• 1 small silver plated toggle clasp

• 16 JFC2B black crimp beads

• 2 4”, 6”, 7” and 8” strands JW15B 19 strand .018 black beading wire

• 2 20” JW15B strands black beading wire 202E-005

• Designer Ergo Cutter JTCRIMP3

• Designer Mighty Crimper


  1. Create the core necklace first. Attach two 20” strands black wire to the bar end of a toggle clasp using a crimp bead. Keep wires uncrossed inside of bead before crimping. Clip off excess wire with cutter tool.
  2. Begin by sliding a pearl on one wire.
  3. Thread both wires into a jet round.
  4. Slide another pearl on the opposite wire from the first pearl.
  5. Thread both wires into a jet round. Create tension by working beads down wire as you continue this pattern.
  6. When you reach final pearl, check back through the woven design to even out spaces between beads. The design should not be too stiff or have too much space between beads. Each 3 bead section should be about ½”.
  7. Attach beaded wires to circle end of toggle with crimp bead as before.
  8. The center sections are built after attaching the wire to the core necklace. Start in the center of the necklace and attach the 8” wire section by threading the wire on a crimp bead and looping the wire through the bottom wire next to the 17th pearl.
  9. Crimp and cut off excess wire. The loop should be approximately ¼”.
  10. Slide two jet teardrops and a pearl on the wire approximately ¾” from top.
  11. Thread wire back into first jet teardrop creating a loop. The pearl should sit at the top of the loop and the two teardrops fall opposite from each other at the bottom as in photo.
  12. Continue down wire adding a group of pearl and teardrops every ¾”. There should be six groups total.
  13. Thread the tail from the final jet teardrop into a crimp bead.
  14. Crimp and clip off excess wire.
  15. Repeat this process attaching the 7” strands to either side of the center waterfall on the wire next to the 2nd pearl from the center. The 7” strands have five bead loops. Move up two spaces and attach the 6” strands with four loops. Move up two more and attach the 4” strands with thee loops.
  16. Before wearing, pull on the bottom bead group on each strand to lengthen waterfall segments.
  17. Check back through design to make sure all wire tails have been clipped.

Cascading Willow Necklace © Margot Potter is intended for inspiration only. Not for reproduction or resale.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Book Sneak Peek

I was in Cincinnati last month to shoot the step-by-step photos for my new book Bead Chic. I think you’re going to enjoy this title. It showcases many wonderful Beadalon products and some really gorgeous beads and findings. I invited an array of well-known industry designers to contribute variation projects, so there’s going to be a lot of eye candy and inspiration. These shoots typically last a week with full eight-hour days of photographing the individual steps that go into creating the jewelry pieces.

My job is to figure out how to break down the steps so that we can shoot them without having to reconstruct the entire design in real time. I create instructions, which I send to the editor before the shoot in electronic files. My editor takes copious notes as we work so we can be sure that the instructions reflect the photos and it’s clear to the reader how to recreate the pieces in the book. The photographer shoots the steps and goes back in digitally to make sure that the shots are clean and easy to navigate. It’s a team effort and it’s a lot of detailed work that requires concentration and focus.

Making a book is an immense amount of work. There are designs to create and rework if requested. There is text to write to accompany the designs and the techniques. There are several rounds of edits of the manuscript. It takes a team to put it all together and bring it to you. I’m really excited about this book and I hope you love it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Big thanks to my editor Julie Hollyday and photographer Christine Polomsky (and my daughter Avalon) for making the shoot such a breeze!

Look for Bead Chic by Margot Potter for North Light Books to debut next summer! I’ll keep you posted!

Bead on with your bad selves,

Margot Potter for Beadalon

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bulk Beading Wire Spools

Does it seem like you're always running out of your favorite style of Beadalon wire? That's why we offer all of our 7-, 19- and 49-strand wires in 1000 foot spools. Our most popular colors, bright, black and bronze, are available in 5000 foot spools. That's a lot of wire! These large sizes are especially convenient for designers, teachers and other jewelry makers who want to save money by buying in bulk or who just appreciate the convenience of keeping their favorite wire on-hand. Beadalon Design Team member Katie Hacker says, "Since .018" bright Beadalon 49 is my old standby, I keep a 1000-ft spool right on my desk."

Because we manufacture Beadalon wire here in our Pennsylvania factory, we’re rarely out of stock. That means if you need a lot of wire fast, you can order through one of our many fabulous distributors with a really quick lead time for shipping. In fact, in no time at all, we could spool up enough 5000 foot spools of wire to circle the globe – that's approximately 26,295 spools (we did the math!).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hot Trends & New Products for Fall

With the rapid approach of autumn, it’s time to think about fall fashions. The current economic climate makes it tough to fill the closet with a whole new wardrobe, but a crafty gal can easily update her old fashions with new jewelry. Beadalon has some great new products you can use to make stylish designs that will bring you right up to date.

First up is the gorgeous new 49 strand Beadalon Champagne wire.This color is so stunning it’s sure to capture attention. The bracelet in the photo uses a four wire woven technique I created with a children’s Cat’s Cradle game in mind. The combination of crystal and earthy porcelain beads works nicely for the darker color palette of fall. Two sprigs of exposed wire and bead fringes give this design optimal movement.

The new 7-strand SilverGold wire is right on trend with the re-emergence of two tone looks on the runways. You can pair this with either silver or gold or combine a variety of metallic elements to beautiful effect. I used a soft and peachy palette with pops of teal crystals and added an array of beaded fringes for a dimensional effect. Because this wire is so supple and fluid, this design is very easy to wear.

Katie Hacker created this lovely choker that utilizes the new Beadalon 19 strand Wire Variety Packs and as you can see, we were both drawn to that teal and neutral combination. I love how this necklace cascades across your neckline. What a perfect design to fill in an open sweater or to add some excitement to the ubiquitous big white shirt that’s everywhere this season.

There is so much to explore in the Beadalon product range, a fashionista on a budget should have absolutely no trouble looking tres chic this season.

Until next time...bead on with your bad selves.


Margot Potter for Beadalon

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Most Popular Tools for Beading

Bent chain nose pliers? Split ring pliers? Jump ring maker? Sometimes it seems that there is a never-ending array of tool choices out there. And, once you’ve decided what you need, there are even more levels of quality and different prices to chose from. How does a beader decide which tools are best?

Most beaders agree that the most essential tools are: chain nose pliers (similar to needle nose, but with small, smooth jaws), round nose pliers, wire cutters and a crimping tool. Each of these tools comes in different styles, from the most basic, economical versions to enhanced, higher quality tools.

I always maintain that the style of tool a beader prefers is a personal decision. Rarely do two beaders agree on which type is their favorite. Some people have smaller hands and like a smaller tool, while some people think a pretty handle is the most important factor. Some people (like me!) can’t get enough tools and love having choices, choices, choices! Remember, your tools are there to make your designing easier, more fun, and ultimately more durable over time. The right tools can make the difference between a beginner effort and an heirloom quality piece. Better tools make it easier to perfect your beading techniques.

I suggest investing in the best tools that you can afford, since you will likely upgrade over time anyway. My favorite, and one of our most popular lines of tools, are the Sparkle Tools.

We’ve also just introduced the Pocket Tools which are great for travel and beading on-the-go. The jaws are the same size as standard tools, the handles are just shorter.

Some of our other popular tools include those from the wire-working category like the Wire Twister & Jump Ring Maker Combo Set We’re adding new tools all the time. Check out the new nylon jaw round nose pliers and aluminum ring mandrel. Be sure to ask for these and other Beadalon tools at your local bead shop.

Do you have a favorite Beadalon tool that makes design work easier? Leave a comment and let us know!

-Meredith Roddy for Beadalon

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fall Jewelry Trends

Summer is almost gone and the bright citrus and tropical colors will be gone from our lives until the next season. We have an icy season coming on our direction and for many people this image is depressing. But you don’t need to dive into a gray, black and dark brown palette during all of the coming months.

Nowadays, fashion is a state of mind and highlights individual personality. Be optimistic because it seems like fuchsia, dark indigo, rich purples, dramatic reds and yellow will pair with the traditional winter colors and everything can be happy and alive. Trust me! Here are some ideas for sprucing up your jewelry wardrobe:

For an updated pearl necklace, add faceted geometric shapes of crystal beads strung on vivid colors of silk cord. If you are not into knotting or don’t want to spend the time, satin silver or satin gold Bead Bumpers will do the trick.

Cocktails rings are a must and Beadalon is right on with the addition of the new line of stainless steel wire. You can make beautiful cocktail rings highlighted by a single stone to add drama and turn heads at a holiday party.

Make treasure-style bracelets easily with the newest glue-on bails. You can add lots of glam using flat back stones alternating with charms hanging from heart shaped clasps.

Don’t forget that the most important thing is to add life and vibrant colors to the gray season! Beadalon can be your best ally when it comes to find the hottest components for your jewelry projects, even during the coldest time of the year.

Jewelry picks:

- Carved resin beads on satin cord or chain

- Jeweled chandeliers with feathers (attach with loop crimps)

- Metal, crystal and plastic mixed together

- Faceted crystal and pearls

- Rhinestones brooches used as focal piece on necklaces

- Cocktail rings on stainless steel and stones

- Multi strand wire necklaces

- Drop earrings with single round beads on chain

Color highlights:

- Deep purples

- Spanish reds

- Dark indigo

- Fuchsia

- Cobalt blue

- Vibrant yellow


- Fernando Dasilva for Beadalon

Thursday, September 3, 2009

BeadFest Philly

We’re glad to be a sponsor for BeadFest Philadelphia that recently took place in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Attendance at the three-day show proved that beading is still going strong, and beaders were out in droves to learn about the newest Beadalon products. We were busy the whole show demonstrating beading techniques and previewing our new products. The new wire colors like champagne, white and SilverGold, and the new half round and square stainless steel wires were a huge hit. Most of our demonstrations focused on using the stainless steel wire to wire-wrap CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements and gemstone cabochons to show how many different ways you can use these fun, new wires.

In fact, one of the show highlights was a taping for the popular public television series Beads, Baubles & Jewels. Product Manager WyattWhite demonstrated new techniques for wire wrapping cabochons. Keep an eye on your local listings for show airings, or click here to search for Beads, Baubles & Jewels in your area.

We were also proud to sponsor the Meet the Teachers Reception, which gave the show instructors a chance to spend some more time with the students and to showcase their kits and supplies. The room was overflowing with creativity and camaraderie as friends old and new got a chance to share ideas and techniques. Amazingly, all of the workshops and classes at BeadFest were sold out!

You can see more pictures from the show on our Facebook page. Be sure to become a fan while you’re there. All in all, it was a great experience for the Beadalon team, and we can’t wait to see everyone again next year!

- Meredith Roddy for Beadalon